By Ray Cotolo, for The Red Mile
LEXINGTON, KY— The 122nd edition of the $435,000 Kentucky Futurity was taken by Nuncio, doing so in a near gate-to-wire fashion over 2013 Dan Patch Winner, divisional leader, and stable-mate Father Patrick.
John Campbell sent Nuncio straight to the lead, while Father Patrick sat in the pocket, and Hillustrious kept up in third. Nuncio rolled by the quarter in :27.2, then progressed to the half in :54.1 (:26.4).
Father Patrick soon nipped Campbell’s helmet, and Yannick Gingras signaled for Father Patrick to make his move around the far turn. The two hooked up in the most anticipated battle of the afternoon, with Father Patrick having the nose advantage in a 1:22.2 (:28.1) third quarter.
Father Patrick appeared to have put away Nuncio, but the 9/5-second choice emerged in front at the eighth pole. Gingras asked more from Father Patrick, but he appeared to have fought his battle, and Nuncio, who had finished second to another Jimmy Takter horse, Trixton, in the Hambletonian earlier this year, finally got his turn in the spotlight, winning the Kentucky Futurity in 1:51.3 (:29.1). Il Sogno Dream was third, and Lightning Force was fourth.
The sophomore son of Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane is owned by Stall Tz Inc., and trained by Jimmy Takter. Nuncio, earning $1,488,970 in his career, returned $5.80 to win, with the $2 exacta returning $7.20.
Trainer Jimmy Takter also won the $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity with Shake It Cerry earlier in the card.
“He [Nuncio] was over there [three-quarters] faster than I wanted him,” driver John Campbell said.
“He just wasn’t trotting as comfortable, and when I tried to back him up, he got a little bumpy. Once Father Patrick came out, I thought he was going to go right by, and he got partway by, and my horse just dug in. I pulled the plugs and blinds off him, and he was able to fight him off.”
“He was still going to the wire, but his gait isn’t the same,” Campbell also said. “He’s one of those unusual horses that just doesn’t trot as well over the surface. He was laboring with his gait a little bit, but he’s got such a great attitude; he puts his head down, and goes straight forward.”
“Nuncio had been chasing [Father] Patrick all year, and I beat him with Trixton in the Hambletonian,” trainer Jimmy Takter said. “He’s well-deserved this win. He’s been an absolutely wonderful horse to work with, and he tries so hard.”
“Every horse gets beat,” Takter also said, in regards to Father Patrick. “Of course I’m a little disappointed, [Father] Patrick should’ve won the race. This horse [Nuncio] is a tough one to get by. He has the right attitude, and he’s a fighter.”
“[Father] Patrick can leave, very hard, too,” Takter also said, in regards to Nuncio and Father Patrick racing one-two. “One post is not the favorite for leaving, but that horse [Nuncio] just raced fantastic, so I expected them to fight this race. I know Yannick [Gingras] had tremendous respect for Nuncio in front, and he knows how tough it is to get by.”
Takter also said that the two would not compete together until the Breeders Crown.